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Third annual Tim Tebow Celebrity Gala and Golf Classic at TPC Sawgrass a huge success

April 14, 2013

By Michael Curet, Contributor

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. -- Tim Tebow certainly knows who his true friends are. For the third consecutive year at the TPC Sawgrass, they showed up in huge numbers to support the Tim Tebow Foundation and its mission to bring faith, hope and love to those needing a brighter day in their darkest hour of need.

The Tim Tebow Celebrity Gala and Golf Classic lived up to its name, as many celebrities from the sports and entertainment industry answered the call and received the “red carpet” treatment – literally.

Friday night’s gala at the TPC Sawgrass Clubhouse rolled out a Hollywood premiere-like setting for Tebow’s special guests. There were the expected arrivals such as former Florida Gator and NFL running back Fred Taylor, current Gator head coach Will Muschamp, and former FSU and current NFL running back Leon Washington. However, when Willie Robertson of TV’s “Duck Dynasty” and his younger brother Jep entered the building, the room came alive.

“I’m in uncharted waters over here in Florida,” said Robertson, whose golf game, like his real-life TV character, impressed a lot of fans watching Saturday on the Stadium course. “I’m here for Tim and what he’s doing and trying to accomplish. Honestly, I want to learn more about what he’s doing. He and I were together a few months ago and he asked me to come down. I think when you put your faith out there and really live it, guys like us will show up.”

Tebow and his foundation have five main objectives:

1. Build the “Tebow Cure Hospital” for children of the Philippines in partnership with CURE International.
2. Fulfill the dreams and wishes of children with life-threatening illnesses through the “W15H Program.
3. Build “Timmy’s Playrooms” in children’s hospitals around the world.
4. Provide care for more than 650 orphans worldwide.
5. Encourage service to others through “Team Tebow.”

Other notables on hand included legendary Florida State head football coach Bobby Bowden, country music recording artists Jason Michael Carroll, Kristy Lee Cook, actors Derek and Sophia Luke, mixed martial artist Brendan Schaub, Alfonso Ribeiro (Carlton on TV’s “Fresh Prince of Bel-Air), musician Mark Stuart, Basketball Hall of Fame member Artis Gilmore, former NFL quarterback Vinny Testaverde, NFL Network Red Zone host Scott Hanson, NFL players Bart Scott, and Von Miller.

Spread out at select locations throughout the course were eight of the children with life-threatening illnesses from Tebow’s “W15H Program."

“They came from all over,” said Tebow. “To hear the testimonials from these kids of how their lives have been changed is special. It is such a blessing when you have an event like this and get to bring people together, have fun, raise money and change lives.”

Two PGA TOUR golfers, Billy Horschel and Chris DiMarco (both former members of the Florida Gator golf team), joked that if they can’t be in Augusta this week playing The Masters, helping the Tim Tebow Foundation at this event is the next best thing.

“I saw Tim and his brother Robbie in Phoenix where he was training earlier this year and I told him that if I’m not in Augusta, pencil me in,” said Horschel, whose wife Brittany was a classmate with Tebow at Nease High School . “They both wanted me to be in Augusta and were sending me texts the last two weeks. This isn’t a bad runner-up place to be, however.”

DiMarco, whose has played on the Stadium Course numerous times, couldn’t wait to be part of the event. “This is one of the best courses in the world that we’re standing on and I was happy to be involved in this,” he said. “But more than that, for Tim to be one of my son’s role models, I can’t ask for any more than that.”

“Coach” Bowden has wanted to be of the Tim Tebow Foundation Gala and Golf Classic since its inception three years ago. This time his schedule permitted, and Bowden didn’t disappoint.

“This is a heck of a cause,” he said. “The least I can do is come over, meet people, shake a few hands and sign some autographs. I knew Tim’s dad before Tim was born. First time I met Tim, I was speaking at a Fellowship of Christian Athletes event and he was there. Next thing you know he grew up and was a pretty good football player where he was."

Like Bowden, Coach Muschamp saw Tebow from the opposing sideline on the football field. Recalling his first meeting with the Heisman-trophy winning Gator quarterback, he said of Tebow, “It was 2006 and I was a defensive coordinator for Auburn. Tim ran a power-I 22 yards for a touchdown. Fortunately, he didn’t play much that night and we were able to come back and win the game. Just a fabulous football player and a great human being."

When questioned about reporting to his NFL team, the New York Jets, on Monday, Tebow politely answered but quickly deflected the attention back to where it belonged.

“I’ll be there Monday ready to work out and have a great attitude,” he said. “Right now, it's all about tonight."

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